Recently I had a chance to speak to a “self defense” expert who was visiting our area. They saw my school sign and stopped in to “chat”, or so they claimed. In reality they were trying to get me to allow them to “use” my space to teach “real life, effective self defense”. Based on the general attitude of this self proclaimed “expert” and their statements I just couldn’t resist becoming inquisitive.
Naturally the first question I asked was their “martial art” background and, like I expected, I got the same old “I got my black belt in blah blah blah” response. “Oh really what Dan rank did you achieve” I responded and they replied “I never went past my 1st degree because what I was learning was “not” practical”. Now I have heard this hundreds of times from “self defense experts” so I naturally asked “What is your military or law enforcement background” of which this person had none. They then began telling about how they are certified in “Krav Maga”, “LRT” (Last Resort Tactics), “Bullyguard” and a slew of other programs. This is an immediate red flag with me because I know, for a 100% fact, that you can pay, attend a weekend course and get certified in quite a few of the things they were claiming and some of the programs all you have to do is pay a fee and BAM you’re certified as an expert.
As the conversation went on and I kept getting work arounds by them to specific questions that any “expert” should know it became clear they had no idea that, unlike them, that I actually have experience in the self defense realm from being a correctional officer, many years working bars as a bouncer, a bodyguard and skip tracer. I know what it means to be in a real fight, not just to win, but for your life. I also have spent over 2/3rd’s of my life training in the “non-effective, not practical”, as this expert called it, art of Karate…which also includes using it against thugs, criminals, people who tried to stab me and even a couple who wanted to shoot me. All that being said this expert wouldn’t listen to a thing that went against their opinion, which was a very self created and misinformed one to say the least.
Eventually I just had to ask them “Have you ever been in a real fight where either you lived or you died?”. They told me about some of the “fights” they had been in and I kept saying those are kiddie play, I was asking about a real life or death situation. They eventually said no. When I asked them “what makes you think, since you have never been in a real physically violent situation, that you are qualified to teach anyone anything about SELF DEFENSE, not to mention you couldn’t even stick out and actually learn more than the basics of your art because you quit at 1st degree which is not an expert rank or even a qualified rank to teach others?” It was apparent they were getting pissed off at this point and I was glad to have gotten under the skin of this “expert”. To all of this they had no reply…they just walked out of the building but not before I invited to show me some of their “expert advice” on what to do in a few situations. I even offered to show them what I teach in my dojo and have at over 300 self defense clinics I have taught in the last 26 years.
This expert would have nothing to do with any of it though because, they knew in their heart, that they had come across someone who actually knew self defense, lived through it, used it successfully and wasn’t a charlatan just out to get money from teaching “awareness” type classes. For reasons I won’t state here I have left their name out of my article, as well as their business. I am sure I will get some messages about who it was from all of my actual self defense expert friends and that’s fine. I will state this that this person should not being teaching a self defense class to anyone because I did manage to get them to do one thing…show me what they would do if I pointed a gun at them…and, had they done this and I had a real gun, they would have died plain and simple. You can’t disarm someone with a gun pointed at you as long as you stand right in front of it! Enough said.
Anyway, I guess my entire point is that people need to be more aware of who they “hire” to teach self defense. Everyone these days thinks they are an expert on the topic because they has “some” martial arts training, may have fought in the cage or watched an online course and paid money to a certificate that is only good for wiping, well you know what. When you are looking for quality self defense seek out someone who has been involved in it for A LONG TIME…not someone who just looks good on paper. The quality comes from experience, not from a certification that claims they can teach it.
On a side note Krav Maga is not the ultimate self defense. It regurgitates the same things we train in Karate and, more often than not, it is a fitness type class these days. I trained Krav Maga for four years attending seminars with some of the top instructors in the USA back before it became a watered down version of what is taught out there. The only thing that I got of value from it was the “live training” scenarios and those were incorporated in self defense training in my dojo. Everything was not new, it was not unique…I had done all of it before in my “non-practical” Karate training.
Train hard, don’t fall for claims of greatness, seek out the real experts and then you get real value…just saying…
Steven Franz, Rokudan
Shorin Ryu Shorinkan